Telling Our Stories – Giulia Sellitto

Each year we meet incredible women at womENcourage™ celebrations. We ask womENcourage participants to tell their stories in blog posts. We continue 2022  Giulia Sellitto, who is a PhD student at the University of Salerno, Italy. She is interested in Software Engineering and she presented a poster at womENcourage 2021. She is passionate about helping other people and encouraging everyone to pursue their dreams, even if they seem impossible to achieve. She served as a volunteer in the Celebration this year, and she wants to spread the happiness that the event gave her.

Why you should volunteer at the next womENcourage celebration

By Giulia Sellitto

“Happiness is only real when shared”. As human beings, we always feel the need to share our emotions and spread our excitement, otherwise, we find something missing and our joy feels incomplete.

Today I want to share with you my experience and hopefully get you curious about womENcourage!

In September 2021, I have been a volunteer at the 8th ACM Celebration of Women in Computing: womENcourage 2021. It has been a wonderful adventure! I had the opportunity to meet a lot of people, be helpful and enjoy the event from close up. I feel like everyone should seize the chance to volunteer at these celebrations, and here are some reasons why.

1. You will meet amazing people

Starting from the very beginning, when the celebration hadn’t commenced yet, the Student Volunteer Chair Emilia Cioroaica organized some preliminary meet-ups involving all the volunteers. The main focus of these meetings was to get trained for the tasks and schedule the shifts, to let everything flow smoothly during the event.

I met wonderful people and felt immersed in a very hospitable environment. It was like we were friends chatting and working together to organize a party. It was a very nice way to connect and get to know each other before the event. It is lovely to say that we are still in touch, and some academic collaborations have started too.

Conferences are for networking, and there is no better way to make new connections than volunteering!

Some of the student volunteers who served at womENcourage 2021

2. You will be part of a great team

Being helpful to other people is the main reason we are on this planet. I would say that volunteering activities opened my eyes on how joyful is to serve in the organization and carrying out of an event.

The Chairs made us volunteers feel like a key part of the team, without whom the celebration wouldn’t have been successful. I felt truly involved in the whole event, and got extremely gratified by its great outcome.

Maybe volunteering is the first step to take if you want to chair a conference yourself: you start assuming some responsibilities as a volunteer, and then you can dedicate a higher and higher commitment to the event in the next editions.

3. You will attend the sessions from behind the scene

Unfortunately, the pandemic situation forced also womENcourage 2021 to be mainly held virtually. One of the tasks assigned to us volunteers consisted in hosting Zoom meetings and help speakers set up their presentations.

It was a precious opportunity to exchange a few words with authors and mentors, and meet the people behind the presentations. I am actually still in touch with one of the speakers: after the session in which I volunteered, we talked and shared thoughts and I ended up being involved in her project!

Volunteering gives you the possibility to attend the event from a special spot, where you can be in close contact with great personalities and learn from them.

These are just some of the benefits that I had during my volunteering activity at womENcourage. Of course, there is a lot more! I strongly encourage everyone to jump in and live this unforgettable experience!

And if you still have doubts… I will convince you!

If you don’t believe that you can be helpful at all…

It is just the impostor syndrome striking again!

One of the tasks that I was assigned to carry out consisted in cheerleading the event on social networks. I didn’t feel like I was the right person to do that, but I gathered all my courage and started posting.

You can do everything if you decide that you want to, and doing something different from your routine can help you a lot in believing in yourself.

If you are worried about messing things up…

Everything can be fixed!

You will receive extensive training before the event, so you will always have clear what you have to do, the problems that you may face and how to resolve them. If during the celebration something goes wrong, you can still count on the Chairs and other volunteers that will help resolving the issues.

There is a lot to learn by doing things that initially scare us.

If you don’t have time to fully commit…

You can still be a great volunteer!

You don’t have to commit 24/7: me and some other volunteers were involved in the womENcourage Hackathon and could not serve on the challenge day. It was still fun and helpful to be a volunteer on the other two days!

You can provide your availability to volunteer at the sessions that you are interested in the most, so you will take advantage of each second.

So gather all of your courage and volunteer at the next womENcourage celebration!

I used a lot of courage to write this article myself. I felt like I was not good with words, but I was truly passionate about convincing other people to take part in this awesome adventure, and I would like to thank again the Chairs who gave me this opportunity.

See you at womENcourage 2022!

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